Teaching Arkansans how to rate and report the severity of storms is one goal of a program being hosted by the National Weather Service Tuesday night.
Spring storms often bring tornado warnings in central Arkansas. The Skywarn Storm Spotter Training is designed to help community volunteers monitor and report storms as they develop.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Hood says firsthand accounts are a useful addition to the weather reports gathered via radar.
“If you hear that someone has already confirmed the tornado on the ground near a known location or a place that you’re familiar with, you might take extra precaution or heed that warning more greatly. And so that’s one of the big benefits of training these people is to have that reliable source to provide us with timely information when severe weather strikes,” said Hood.
CJ Engel, the director of Emergency Management for Saline County, confirmed the value of local volunteer storm trackers.
“Last year actually, we had an EF-1 tornado go through the Avilla area in north Saline County that, on radar, didn’t look quite like a tornado. [the National Weather Service] thought [it was just] some straight-line winds, but it ended up being a little bit worse damage-wise than they would have thought just by radar,” said Engel.
The training, which is free and open to the public, will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Saline County Memorial Hospital in Benton.